How to tell if your memory lapses are normal
We all know the feeling. We’re at a dinner party and we need to introduce our partner to an old friend, and we completely blank out on the name of our friend (or partner…). Or we’re speaking about this amazing restaurant we recently went to and no matter how hard we try, we just cannot remember the name. We forget where we put our keys, parked our car, or what we came into the room to get. We forget appointments. And the list goes on.
I’m approaching 40 and this has been happening to me for years, so what’s going to happen to my memory as I get older? Is this amount of forgetfulness normal?
Although memory lapses can be frustrating and sometimes embarrassing, most research on the subject shows that they are actually normal, especially as we age. In fact, according to Susan Lehmann of the Geriatric Psychiatry Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital, occasional memory lapses in your 40s and 50s are rarely a sign of a serious problem. “It’s typically more about distraction and how much information the human brain can handle at one time,” she says. “All the complexities of life make it easy, in any one day, to forget something.”
So if you’re doing lots of things at once (which is almost always true for most of us), like trying to read a book with the TV on and a child asking you questions, chances are you won’t be forming memories properly and it will be hard for you to recall details about the book later on.
Lehmann goes on to explain: “Though they make people anxious, the normal memory changes that happen as you age through midlife and beyond – which tend to be episodic, occasional and stable – are not a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.”
In short, healthy people can experience memory lapses at any age, but as long as they are not frequent, persistent or interfering with your ability to function and work, they do no usually indicate a more serious memory-impairing illness.
plySide West, Las Vegas, on October 6-7, 2016.